Lainey Wilson Leads 2023 CMA Awards Nominations

It feels very strange to even talk about the CMA Awards at this moment in country music when everything else is centered around the wild success of wild-assed and under-produced guys like Zach Bryan and Oliver Anthony. To think about folks like Old Dominion and Jordan Davis (Jordan who?) getting nominated and likely winning awards, it just seems so off-topic for this time and place.

The CMAs are an infomercial for the major label Music Row-based country music industry, and while the world is waking up to the type of country music that is decidedly not that, the CMAs trundle along with business as usual, as if the hoards aren’t at the gate, ready to sack the castle.

That said, few in the country music insurgency will quibble with Lainey Wilson earning the most CMA nominations with an unprecedented nine for the (mostly) country traditionalist. As an actor on Yellowstone, and an alumnus of the massive independent Under The Big Sky Festival in Montana, she has close ties to the country insurgency. And rather inexplicably, Wilson was even nominated for Entertainer of the Year.

Jelly Roll is also a big beneficiary of the 2023 CMA nominations with five. Though his new “country” album didn’t really pan out to be very country at all, the CMAs have been trending more and more country recently, with many raving about the 2022 presentation. Hopefully 2023 will be the same when it comes to the performances and winners. Country music is back in country music. And Lainey Wilson leading all nominees helps underscore this.

Nominees and knee-jerk reactions below.


It’s great to see Lainey nominated here, but she won’t win it. Her win in this category will happen in the future, not the present. If this award is a touring award—which it’s been considered as in the last many years—it’s a three way race between Chris Stapleton, Morgan Wallen, and Luke Combs. Stapleton has the benefit of winning the ACM in this category earlier this year, and Wallen has the baggage of being Morgan Wallen. But Wallen still could win as it’s clear the industry has reconciled and moved on from that moment, despite the continued full court press by the media outside of country.

And if this is a touring award, both Zach Bryan and Billy Strings should have been at least considered.

– Luke Combs
– Chris Stapleton
– Carrie Underwood
– Morgan Wallen
– Lainey Wilson


Very strong field here, and any could win except Kelsea Ballerini who doesn’t deserve to be in this company, despite releasing a slightly better album than her previous attempts. Ashley McBryde would be the critical favorite. Luke Combs and obviously Morgan Wallen would be the commercial ones. Lainey Wilson could split the difference, and with all of her other nominations and momentum could rise up and take it.

– Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville – Ashley McBryde
– Bell Bottom Country – Lainey Wilson
– Gettin’ Old – Luke Combs
One Thing At A Time – Morgan Wallen
– Rolling Up the Welcome Mat – Kelsea Ballerini


It’s usually a good bet that if a woman is nominated for Entertainer of the Year, it stands to reason she will be a front runner here. Lainey Wilson wins this running away. Interesting that neither Carrie Underwood nor Maren Morris made the cut. We’re finally seeing more strength in this category as the women of country continue to rise.

– Kelsea Ballerini
– Miranda Lambert
– Ashley McBryde
– Carly Pearce
– Lainey Wilson


Big moment for both Jelly Roll and Cody Johnson to be nominated here, but neither will win it. It’s a three way race between Luke Combs, Morgan Wallen, and Chris Stapleton.

– Luke Combs
– Jelly Roll
– Cody Johnson
– Chris Stapleton
– Morgan Wallen


Zach Bryan should win, but with the way the industry is so up behind him, Jelly Roll probably will. For the Zach Bryan fans wondering where he’s at in these nominations, his album came out a little too late to be considered here. Next year is when you may see returns.

– Zach Bryan
– Jelly Roll
– Parker McCollum
– Megan Moroney
– Hailey Whitters


Both the CMA and ACM critically need to address the rubber stamping of the same basic nominees for both the Song of the Year and Single of the Year categories. These are not supposed to be the same things. A Song of the Year should be a critically-acclaimed song that either leads the genre, or says something transformational. Single of the year is more about the performance, whether artistically or commercially.

Since “Fast Car” is a previously-released song, it feels strange to nominate it in this category. But since this falls under the CMA bylaws for Song of the Year, it feels like the one that should win. It’s done something we never expected. Strong field overall, though it’s strange how Jordan Davis has somehow become a shoo-in via the song categories. “Next Thing You Know” ain’t no “Buy Dirt.”

Award goes to Songwriter(s)
– “Fast Car” (Tracy Chapman)
– “Heart Like A Truck” (Trannie Anderson, Dallas Wilson, Lainey Wilson)
– “Next Thing You Know” (Jordan Davis, Greylan James, Chase McGill, Josh Osborne)
– “Tennessee Orange” (David Fanning, Paul Jenkins, Megan Moroney, Ben Williams)
– “wait in the truck” (Renee Blair, Michael Hardy, Hunter Phelps, Jordan Schmidt)


“Fast Car” could and perhaps should sweep the song categories. This could also be where Jelly Roll emerges to get his. Expect the love for “wait in the truck” to come in the collaborative/video categories.

– “Fast Car” – Luke Combs
– “Heart Like A Truck” – Lainey Wilson
– “Need A Favor” – Jelly Roll
– “Next Thing You Know” – Jordan Davis
– “wait in the truck” – HARDY (feat. Lainey Wilson)


Old Dominion will win. And the world will continue to wonder why. With this weak of a field, they should really expand the scope to groups like Whiskey Myers and the Turnpike Troubadours who frankly draw just as well live as some of these others.

– Lady A
– Little Big Town
– Midland
– Old Dominion
– Zac Brown Band


Again, the continued lack of strength in this category is embarrassing. But this also presents an opportunity. There’s about nobody better live than The War & Treaty, and they released a quality album this year. They could break the Brothers Osborne streak.

– Brooks & Dunn
– Brothers Osborne
– Dan + Shay
– Maddie & Tae
– The War And Treaty


“wait in the truck” running away. Note that the Cole Swindell/Jo De Messina song is the “remix” version of the song, not the original which is too old to qualify.

– “Save Me” – Jelly Roll (with Lainey Wilson)
– “She Had Me At Heads Carolina (Remix)” – Cole Swindell & Jo Dee Messina
– “Thank God” – Kane Brown (with Katelyn Brown)
– “wait in the truck” – HARDY (feat. Lainey Wilson)
– “We Don’t Fight Anymore” – Carly Pearce (featuring Chris Stapleton)


Remember, this should never be considered as an actual video award. It’s basically another song award, and goes to an artist the CMA voters want to give an award to.

– “Light On In The Kitchen” – Ashley McBryde
– “Memory Lane” – Old Dominion
– “Need A Favor” – Jelly Roll
– “Next Thing You Know” – Jordan Davis
– “wait in the truck” – HARDY (feat. Lainey Wilson)


This is the 31st nomination for Paul Franklin in this category, and he’s never won it. With Franklin releasing an excellent new album with Vince Gill in tribute to Ray Price, this would be a great year to finally give it to him. Cool to see Charlie Worsham here too.

– Jenee Fleenor
– Paul Franklin
– Rob McNelley
– Derek Wells
– Charlie Worsham

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